®

Today's poem is by Ann Townsend

Ferry to the Island

Nothing resists the wind
like the one-legged gull balancing
on an air current, begging bread,

teasing the attention of all
the passengers. But let the sheer
cliffs diminishing in fog

reveal our thirst to turn back—
if they were human, they'd be the awkward
sentinels of restraint. The boat's

spume has atomized into haze and sky,
and the Mennonites lining the aft deck
can hardly keep their clothes on—

the boy's straw hat will fly
and his suspenders flutter against
dark-shirted shoulders. He's all sweat

and anticipation, offering crusts
for the flapping bird. And the women—
they unhousel their legs of the thick black

hose; they roll them to their ankles
and abandon the regulation shoes.
So let the lake itself substitute

for capitulation, as the water's
green wake lapses against
the rust-laden hull

probing forward against gravity.
Among tank-topped sailors
and the curly perms of vacationers,

the Mennonites are only native scenery,
to be pressed between the pages
of an album, like the jazz notes

of the gull finally replicated
in the car radio's Muzak nostalgia
and insistent swing, all the way home.



Copyright © 2002 Ann Townsend All rights reserved
from Dime store Erotics
Winner of the Gerald Cable Prize
Silverfish Review Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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